Friday, December 2, 2011

IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinians hunting birds nr. the no-go zone, forcing them to leave the area. Israeli naval vessels fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the n. Gaza coast, forcing them to return to shore. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 4 villages nr. Ramallah during the day; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem. Palestinians (sometimes accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil’in, Kafr Qaddum, Nabi Salih, and Ni’lin; demonstrations in Bil’in also call for national reconciliation. IDF soldiers fire rubbercoated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters; 3 Palestinians and 1 Israeli in Bil’in are hit and moderately injured by tear gas canisters; 2 Palestinian journalists (for Associated Press and Palestine TV) and 3 international activists are arrested in Nabi Salih. (PCHR 12/8; OCHA 12/9)

Speaking at the Brookings Institute’s Saban Center in Washington, U.S. Defense Secy. Leon Panetta states that the “firm principles” on which U.S. Middle East policy is based are: (1) the U.S.’s “unshakable” commitment to Israel, (2) maintenance of regional stability, and (3) preventing Iran fr. obtaining nuclear weapons (by military means if necessary). However, he also says Israel bears significant blame for a peace process that “has been effectively put on hold” and must do more to revive peace talks and improve relations with Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey. (NYT, WP 12/3)